Storing an excessive amount of visceral fat in the body is known to result in a range of issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. And unlike subcutaneous fat, which can be found under skin, it can be hard to tell if you have too much. Luckily there are some simple ways you can check for yourself at home.
Speaking to Eat This, Not That!, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Roxana Ehsani – explained more.
She said: “You can’t measure your visceral fat, but you can measure your waist to hip ratio using a measuring tape at home to see if you have a high percentage of visceral fat.
“In females, if you have a waist to hip ratio at or above 0.85, you are at higher risk for having visceral fat, and for males if you have a waist to hip ratio at or above 0.9, you are at higher risk for having visceral fat.
“Having a high waist to hip ratio also puts you at higher risk for developing chronic conditions or even having a stroke.”
To work out your waist to hip ratio you need to wrap a tape measure around the smallest point of your waist at the smallest point, which is usually around your belly button.
This is known as your waist circumference.
Then wrap the tape measure around your hips at the widest part to record your hip circumference.
Dividing your waist size by your hip size will give you your waist-to-hip ratio.
Building up visceral fat can be caused by a number of factors.
Ms Ehsani added: “Visceral fat could be caused by lack of exercise, overeating, or a combination of both.
“Also drinking alcohol can contribute to visceral fat, especially in men according to research.
“Also getting older, as we age we tend to lose muscle mass, and gain more fat mass, therefore an increase in visceral fat can accompany it.”
She recommended a healthy diet as one way to reduce visceral fat.
“It’s also important to stay active your entire life as well,” she said.
“Find an exercise you enjoy doing, that doesn’t feel like work, can really help you stay active.”
She also acknowledged stress and lack of sleep as a cause of visceral fat.
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